But start-ups and researchers are scrambling to overcome the many remaining technical obstacles. Amazon even sponsors an annual contest to encourage more innovation in the category.
Mr. Ford, the author, believes it is just a matter of time before the employment picture in AmazonÃ¢Â€Â™s warehouses changes.
Ã¢Â€ÂœMy assumption is this technology will eventually displace a lot of people in those warehouses,Ã¢Â€Â Mr. Ford said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI would not say that overnight huge numbers of jobs disappear. Maybe the first indication is they donÃ¢Â€Â™t get rid of those people but the pace of job creation slows down.Ã¢Â€Â
AmazonÃ¢Â€Â™s Mr. Clark said history showed that automation increases productivity and, in some cases, demand from consumers, which ultimately creates more jobs. He said warehouse workers would continue to work in technologically rich environments.
Ã¢Â€ÂœItÃ¢Â€Â™s a myth that automation destroys net job growth,Ã¢Â€Â he said.
In the case of the Florence facility, it opened up the new opportunity for Ms. Scott.
At one point, one of the arms knocked over a tote, sending a dozen or so cone-shaped plastic coffee filters skidding across the ground. Ms. Scott hit a button that froze the arm so she could safely pick up the mess.
Then the arms started working again.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe robot will work the same all day long,Ã¢Â€Â said Edward Cohoon, who supervises Ms. Scott and other Amazon workers as they tend to individual robots. Ã¢Â€ÂœTheir stomachs donÃ¢Â€Â™t grumble.Ã¢Â€Â